A Reason to Visit Canary Wharf: Winter Lights Festival 2017

Ok, so Canary Wharf has a bad rep for being soulless. I personally quite like the place (possibly because there’s a lot of opportunities for looking up) but I’ve got a fresh reason for you to hop on the Jubilee line and it comes in the shape of a Winter Lights Festival.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Now in its third year, Canary Wharf – a hotspot for contemporary art commissions – is currently hosting the Winter Lights Festival until Friday 27 January.

Bringing together some of the most innovative artists working with light worldwide, I’ve highlighted my favourite discoveries, all easily viewed within a short stroll from each other.

Some are interactive, like the angels which you’re supposed to stand in front of. Others gather information from their surroundings and that defines their tempo or colour.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Angels of Freedom by Ove Collective Merav Eitan + Gaston Zahr

The most eye-catching piece this year is a huge egg-shaped structure that looks a bit like a wooden version of The Gherkin. It’s also suspended over water so the reflections mean its even more photogenic.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Ovo by Mustafa Hadi + Pol Marchandise (Odeaubois)

and you can go inside, here’s a view looking up…

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

It looks a bit blurry because every couple of minutes they pump mist into the middle, which is atmospheric even if it makes you a tad damp.

This jewel-like colourful installation was put together with the help of pupils from the local George Green’s School. It’s meant to shed light on the places where basic needs, like having electricity or running water, aren’t met.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Liter of Light by Mick Stephenson

This piece uses a fine sheet of mist as a canvas on which it can then project shape and colour.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Water Wall by Andrew Bernstein + Gregory St. Pierre

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Some you need to be in front of (or at least capture in video form) to do them justice. These twelve columns respond to visitors’ movements via sensors, meaning the more people around the faster the lights pulse.

Cathedral of Mirrors by Mads Christensen + Quays Culture

One of my favourites (this picture doesn’t quite show off its scale) can be found in Westferry Circus. The lights change colour over time, sometimes frantically flashing, sometimes gently fading into new colours. Every one of the ‘nodes’ can communicate and are ‘location-aware’ so apparently they change as a response to their surrounding ambience.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Here’s a close-up…

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival 2017

Bloom by Squidsoup


Winter Lights is on from now until 27 January and is completely free. You can find the locations of installations and more info here.

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  • Wow!! I wish I had come across your blog much earlier, your writing is interesting and easy to follow, it makes the Art come alive in ones imagination. Thank you : )

    December 8, 2017 at 10:31 pm

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